Chris Ash cannot discuss his 2017 recruiting class per NCAA rules.
But the first-year Rutgers head coach can certainly express pride in his staff's June accomplishments.
Rutgers picked up nine verbal commitments in June with seven coming from camp visitors.
“Camps are everything in recruiting,” Ash said. “Even if a kid has been committed, they come to your camp and we get a chance to work with him and hopefully give him some tools to go out and have a great senior year. For guys that we still need to evaluate, it gives a chance to watch and evaluate.”
Rutgers concluded its camping surge with a 7-on-7 camp Saturday and sleepover camp that followed. Ash enters his first July at Rutgers with 19 verbal commitments and the No. 17 spot in the Scout team rankings.
“Camps have been extremely beneficial this June for us and our program,” Ash said. “It's helped us make some decisions on some guys. It's helped us feel really good about some of the guys that were committed. It's helped us promote the game of football here in this region. I've been very pleased with the camps, the number of guys we've got, the quality of kids that came and what we're able to do with them.”
Ash hit on a variety of topics with local media during this week's charity golf outing where Rutgers raised $100,000.
Asked if he accomplished what he wanted to accomplish early, Ash responded in detail.
“We haven't won any games yet so we haven't gotten that done,” he said. “We have done a lot in what is now just about six months that we've been here. We've been swinging really hard to get the program foundation set the way we wanted it and establish a culture that we wanted, recruit the way we wanted. I get asked all the time how it's going. It's really going according to plan, the plan that we had coming into Rutgers. So far that plan is working.”
In other bookkeeping news, Ash said that the entire expected roster arrived on time for the second summer session.
“A couple of minor hiccups” delayed weight room renovations, but Ash expects a completed construction “within another week or two at most.”
“Our players have continued to change their bodies this summer,” Ash said. “They've been working extremely hard. We've got a temporary weight room set up down underneath the stadium kind of in a dungeon and they've embraced that. It's kind of a cool environment they've created down there.”
The end of camp season means the first scent of vacation since Ash took over the program. Ash himself plans time with his family and a chance to learn more about his new home.
Staggered breaks in July allow the entire Rutgers staff time for a recharge.
“You need a little downtime,” Ash said. “We haven't had any yet. June has become one of the more challenging months for college football coaches. There's so much going on. You've got your team to train. You've got recruiting going on. You've got camps going on. There's a lot of stuff that you have to take care of before you hit vacation. [This week] will be the first opportunity our coaches will get a chance to get vacation for a couple of weeks before we get it cranked back up in July.
“ … It's everything for our players to get away from our coaches. They're probably tired of seeing us. Coaches need it. The season's a grind. When I say it's a grind, we love it. It's what we do, but you need to get your mind and body refreshed a little bit and get ready for training camp and get ready for a long season.”
New to the Club
Rutgers added six bullets to its 2017 class in four days. They explain why Rutgers landed their commitments.
“There's no reason not to. Why not? It's Big Ten football. Then I told all of the coaches, talked to coach Ash.” – Hayek.
“I feel as though the way they were recruiting me, they were recruiting me as a Jersey type of guy even though I live in Maryland. I go up to Jersey every other week, so I am a Jersey guy." – Fogg
“I like what they’re doing with the program. Everything they are doing with it, everyone that is going there, I like all of the coaching staff …it’s just home for me.” – Lovett
“It's a very different environment than what I'm used to at home. It's all closed in. Everybody is friendly. There's no arguments or fights. It's a whole big family. Rutgers has been at the top of my recruitment because they've been showing the most love consistently. Other coaches have been more laid back about me, but not Rutgers.” – Jones.
“I'm going to take full advantage of it. I like the conference (Big Ten). I like the competition there. I really like the coaches, and I like the environment over there. I like a lot of stuff at Rutgers." – Duggan
“Rutgers is a good school, I love the coaches, I love the school, I love the campus and I love the team. I was like, 'What am I waiting for?' So I just committed today." – Fatukasi.